American Phoenix: George Henry White
From the backwoods of North Carolina, George White rose to graduate from Howard University in 1877, becoming first an educator and then a lawyer. Elected to both houses of the North Carolina legislature just after Reconstruction ended, he later served as an elected state solicitor for 8 years until his election in 1896 to the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina’s Second District.
From 1897 to 1901, his was the sole voice in Congress for some 10 million African Americans, including as author of a bill to outlaw lynching, and standing strong against the erosion of political rights for all.
When the right to vote was denied to North Carolina's black citizens in 1900, White left politics, choosing instead to build an economic power base for people of color in Philadelphia, PA. He ran his own law firm, founded the People's Savings Bank, and managed his new land development company, helping black citizens become owners of land, homes, and businesses in Whitesboro, NJ.
White died in Philadelphia in 1918. In the dark decades that followed, his story was all but lost, but is finally being told again today.